New quarterly arts journal The White Review has serious intentions and an elegant way of expressing them…
Launched last month its title is a reference to La Revue Blanche, the Parisian avant-garde journal published 1899-1903, but other than adhering to the spirit of publishing the work of progressive artists, TWR pares down the design leaving breathing space for imagery and finely set text.
Editors Benjamin Eastham and Jacques Testard claim TWR is “a space for a new generation to express itself unconstrained by form, subject or genre”.
It features several elements that celebrate the notion of print itself. There’s a contents card (above), marbled end papers, a fold-out cover print (by Viktor Timofeev) – all things are rare in publishing these days.
But TWR combines an austere design attitude with a very contemporary feel; reflected, too, in the journal’s well-honed online presence.
Designed and art directed by Ray O’Meara, The White Review is beautifully presented. O’Meara’s studio, The Office of Optimism, has produced an array of great print work and typeface design. CR saw his work at his Royal College of Art degree show last year (see here) and for TWR O’Meara has created the bespoke face, Joyous (Blanche).
Alongside new fiction and essays, issue one features interviews with Dame Paula Rego, Andrew Schiffrin and Tom McCarthy, and a reportage section featuring Marcus Leatherhead’s portraits of the Adivasi people in India (two spreads shown, below).
Literary periodicals, on the whole, generally don’t have the production values displayed by TWR. The relatively short-lived Butterfly, and the more succesful Zembla (both the creation of Dan Crowe, who recently launched PORT), injected a real sense of quality design into the genre.
Though both titles were more expressive, occupying magazine-like territory rather than the self-imposed constraints of a periodical (see London Review of Books et al), the latter is cleverly where The White Review has positioned itself. It has the potential to cause a bit of mischief in this somewhat staid arena.
Furthermore, TWR’s printed design translates well on its website (designed by Julian Mills), with textual considerations clearly taken into account: the interviews, for example., adopt the neat transcript Q and A style, as in the recently uploaded discussion with author DBC Pierre.
There’s also plenty of ‘online only’ content that will no doubt keep readers interested prior to the second printed edition.
And to my mind, this is all to be celebrated. TWR affirms the subtle pleasures inherent in printed reading matter, but equally shows how well this thinking can be transferred across to the digital realm.
TWR issue two is published in May and features interviews with author William Boyd (creator of the ‘lost’ abstract expressionist painter, Nat Tate), sculptor Richard Wentworth, and critical theorist Michael Hardt. It will also include writing from Joshua Cohen, Diego Trelles Paz and Aidan Cottrell Boyce; with photography from JH Engstrom and art by Noam Turan.
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